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Who Wants to Finish in 4? A Cluster Analysis of Retention Program Reach Lauren Young Office of Institutional Analysis University at Buffalo 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Who Wants to Finish in 4? A Cluster Analysis of Retention Program Reach Lauren Young Office of Institutional Analysis University at Buffalo 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Who Wants to Finish in 4? A Cluster Analysis of Retention Program Reach Lauren Young Office of Institutional Analysis University at Buffalo 1

2 Why Finish in 4? The Institutional View 4-year graduation increasingly held up as an indicator of institutional quality and effectiveness Longer times to degree require more institutional resources Longer times to degree increase the likelihood that resource commitments will not result in a degree Qualified degree holders add prestige to the institution 2

3 Why Finish in 4? The Student View Save money on tuition Ensure that student will finish; a longer stay decreases the chance of earning a degree and its benefits Quicker progress to career and personal goals More earnings if choosing to enter the workforce More flexibility earlier in a career 3

4 Why Finish in 4? The Student View 4

5 National 4-Year Graduation Initiatives “15 to Finish” initiatives implemented in 15 states  Increase awareness of benefits of staying on a 4-year plan and taking 15 credits per term  Promote strategies for on-time graduation, including a pledge to take 15+ credits per semester Increasing number of institutions implementing 4-year graduation commitments  Student pledge to graduate in 4 years is matched by an institutional commitment to provide advising and instructional resources  Centerpiece is typically an assurance that required courses will be made available 5

6 What is Finish in 4? An institutional commitment to provide pledging students with the resources to graduate in 4 years A roadmap for pledging students’ success The pledge is available to all full-time freshmen except for those who:  Are intending or approved for a program that includes both undergraduate and graduate components (e.g., PharmD; DPT)  Are intending or approved for another dual/combined degree  Enroll in a Spring term 6

7 The Finish in 4 Pledge for Students Students pledging Finish in 4 agree to: Successfully complete a freshman seminar by the end of their first year Participate in mandatory advisement prior to enrollment in each term Follow a personalized curricular plan  Register for and complete an appropriate number of planned credit hours  Maintain good academic standing  Complete prerequisites and gain acceptance to a major on time Register in plan courses in the first week of each term Complete a career assessment by the end of their second year 7

8 The Finish in 4 Pledge for Students Students also agree to adhere to the following guidelines that promote academic success: Make academics their #1 priority (e.g., limiting work to fewer than 20 hours) Choose a major by the end of their third term Consult with an advisor on any planned change of major Monitor their progress using an online self-service center and get help if they fall into academic difficulty Check their university e-mail every day Conduct all university-related tasks on time 8

9 The Finish in 4 Pledge for UB In return for the student pledge to Finish in 4, the institution commits to: Provide academic advisement each term to help develop a curricular plan tailored to a major Offer sections and seats as required by curricular plans Monitor student progress each term Communicate via e-mail about academic problems or pledge non-compliance Offer assistance with academics and progress toward a four-year graduation Provide students who fulfill the pledge but still cannot graduate in four years with the opportunity to complete the courses needed for their degree free of any tuition and comprehensive fee charges. 9

10 But Who’s in Finish in 4? Most analysis centered on effectiveness of initiatives to promote 4-year programs (i.e., are students retained/graduated?) Virtually no published analysis of who pledges such initiatives, though outcomes likely impacted by inputs About half of all eligible students entering in Fall 2012 and Fall 2013 pledged Finish in 4  Why did the others not pledge?  Can we influence some who would be non-participants to take the pledge?  What might be the messages used to do so? 10

11 Classifying Students With Cluster Analysis Method for classifying similar subgroups of a population by imposing structures on data Incorporates diagnostic tests to identify the most informative number(s?) of subgroups Best handled as both data and theory informed approach Current analysis included themes/variables possibly related to a Finish in 4 pledge:  Academic engagement  Achievement orientation  Social engagement  Engagement with the University  Financial concerns 11

12 Variables for Analysis Finish in 4 pledge Academic engagement  High school average and SAT  Acceptance into Honors program  Aspiration to earn doctorate  Importance of academic reputation in choosing UB Achievement orientation  Self ratings of drive to achieve and leadership  Choosing UB because its graduates get better jobs  Long term interest in being recognized in one’s field, in financial success, and in meeting others’ expectations 12

13 Variables for Analysis Social engagement  Self-ratings of social confidence and understanding of others  Expectations of participating in student organizations  Long term interest in contributing to the community Engagement with the University  UB was the first choice institution  Importance of campus visit in choosing UB Financial concerns  Concerns about affordability of a college education  Importance of financial aid and cost in choosing UB Other  Geographic origin in local area (Western New York) or out of state  Undecided major 13

14 Population for Analysis The institution  Highly selective public AAU research institution in Western New York State  Total enrollment of ~29,000 includes ~20,000 undergraduates  Freshman class of 3,000-3,500 is typical  Current 4-year graduation rate is 52% The students (n=867)  First-time, full-time freshmen in Fall 2012  Eligible for Finish in 4  Participated in annual online freshman survey that captures data on background, values, college choice, and future expectations 14

15 Clustering Results Analysis produced 4-cluster and 8-cluster solutions 8-cluster solution ultimately chosen because it provided better detail on students who did not pledge Finish in 4 2 of the 8 clusters included too few students and will not be described further here Of the remaining 6 clusters:  2 were associated with high levels of pledging Finish in 4 (shown in blue in graphs of analysis)  2 were associated with moderate levels of pledging Finish in 4 (shown in green in graphs)  2 were associated with low levels of pledging Finish in 4 (shown in red) 15

16 Describing Student Clusters 16 Cluster 1: Bleeding UB Blue Cluster 2: Academic Strivers Cluster 3: Juggling Demands

17 Describing Student Clusters 17 Cluster 4: Average Joes Cluster 5: Most Likely to Succeed Cluster 6: Geek Squad

18 Participation in Finish in 4 vs. Honors 18

19 Academic Engagement 19

20 Achievement Orientation 20

21 Choosing UB for Reputation 21

22 Choosing UB: Familiarity with Campus 22

23 Choosing UB for Value 23

24 Social Orientation 24

25 Social Orientation: Long Term Goals 25

26 Expected Engagement While at UB 26

27 How Do We Reach Them? 27 Engagement of Jugglers makes this group the best target for the Finish in 4 message if competing demands are addressed  Message on easier access to the best of UB?  Message on meeting social expectations? Average Joes need to receive engagement messages first Most Likely to Succeed are less interested; achievement oriented messages likely to move just a few Geek Squadders may be getting support elsewhere and are otherwise a hard sell

28 How Do We Reach Them? 28 Tailor Finish in 4 messages based on data and information gained from students during application process?  Engagement and interest in activities  Engagement with the University (e.g., making a campus visit during application process; but not necessarily expressed interest in living on campus) Finish in 4 messages are applicable to all students, regardless of whether they formally pledge Finish in 4 at matriculation

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